GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Sailor Tattoos and Superstitions in the 'Verse

POSTED BY: MUDD
UPDATED: Monday, February 15, 2016 15:27
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016 11:44 PM

MUDD


I was thinking about how a lot of traditional sailor tattoos originally had meaning. Either they were supposed to ward against some particular kind of bad luck or they marked some kind of achievement. There are a lot, but Wikipedia has a short list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailor_tattoos#Custom.2C_tradition_and_s
uperstition


Do you think any tattoos in the 'verse might similarly hold meaning? What kind of tattoo would be good luck? What kind of tattoo might indicate a particular position on the crew? What kind of tattoo would could mark an achievement?

I know sailors who still think changing a ship's name is bad luck, though if Mal's heard that tradition, it apparently didn't stop him. I've also heard that bringing a redhead on board a ship is supposed to be bad luck. Certainly turned out that way for Serenity...

Does anyone in Firefly ever express a superstition? Or what superstitions might make sense? If there are western/cowboy superstitions, maybe those would be more appropriate, but I'm less familiar with them.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:56 AM

COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL

Everybody Dies Alone.


Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
I was thinking about how a lot of traditional sailor tattoos originally had meaning. Either they were supposed to ward against some particular kind of bad luck or they marked some kind of achievement. There are a lot, but Wikipedia has a short list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailor_tattoos#Custom.2C_tradition_and_s
uperstition


Do you think any tattoos in the 'verse might similarly hold meaning? What kind of tattoo would be good luck? What kind of tattoo might indicate a particular position on the crew? What kind of tattoo would could mark an achievement?

I know sailors who still think changing a ship's name is bad luck, though if Mal's heard that tradition, it apparently didn't stop him. I've also heard that bringing a redhead on board a ship is supposed to be bad luck. Certainly turned out that way for Serenity...

Does anyone in Firefly ever express a superstition? Or what superstitions might make sense? If there are western/cowboy superstitions, maybe those would be more appropriate, but I'm less familiar with them.



One piece of superstition in the verse is the Albatross story that the Operative tells Mal. The thing about Firefly that's great is it's not like Star Trek or Star Wars in the sense that you have all these different worlds with alien cultures. Star Wars is a great example because you have so many different species with different cultures like the Twi'Leks or the Sith. Firefly is modern in the sense that it's America and China fused together to make the Alliance. There are no aliens or really any other cultures other than really Chinese and American cultures. You do have different "ways of life" on different planets like Triumph has the marriage ceremony and stuff like that but for the most part it's a blend of American and Chinese influence. As for tattoos I feel most of the tattoos in the verse would be of things that are a part of the verse. Like i've always felt Jayne would have a Blue Sun logo tattooed on his arm or his back. As for Rank i don't really know what tattoos each person would have for Rank. I never viewed Mal as the tattoo kind of guy but I feel if he ever had to get one it would be Serenity's logo and ship art. One tattoo I think could play a role would be pinups. If you play the boardgame there is a ship called the Bonnie Mae that has a huge pinup of a browncoat lass on the side. I always thought that would be a really cool tattoo to get.

Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016 2:23 PM

MUDD


I know modern superstitions could hold up, but I figure 500 years is plenty of time for them to warp a little.

Awesome catch with the face tattoo from the pilot! Can anyone read what it means?

I forgot that Jayne has a tattoo. I think you see a tattoo on Mal in Trash too, actually.

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Friday, February 12, 2016 2:30 AM

COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL

Everybody Dies Alone.


Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
I know modern superstitions could hold up, but I figure 500 years is plenty of time for them to warp a little.

Awesome catch with the face tattoo from the pilot! Can anyone read what it means?

I forgot that Jayne has a tattoo. I think you see a tattoo on Mal in Trash too, actually.




I asked a person on YA! if they could translate the Chinese on the lady in the episode Serenity and this is what they came up with
x???x

?? - don't dare
? - add

Sadly they sad it was a bit too blurry to make out the rest. The tattoo that Mal has in the show is actually Nathan Fillion's actual tattoo btw. He was asked by a girl at a con and so he told the story of that tattoo. It's actually an Egyptian hieroglyphic that he got when he was 19 because he loves history and is a huge history nerd. He absolutely HATES the thing and wishes that he could remove it. He actually said at the con that getting the tattoo was one of the dumbest decisions he's ever made.


Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.

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Friday, February 12, 2016 7:46 PM

MUDD


Thanks so much for this!

I'm not totally sure how to interpret your response though. The 2nd and 3rd characters mean, "Don't Dare" and the 4th means, "Add"?

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Saturday, February 13, 2016 3:59 AM

COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL

Everybody Dies Alone.


Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
Thanks so much for this!

I'm not totally sure how to interpret your response though. The 2nd and 3rd characters mean, "Don't Dare" and the 4th means, "Add"?



Ignore all the question marks that's just because the thread would allow me to post Chinese characters. The person was only able to interpret a couple of letters. Don't dare and then Add. I'm assuming it might not mean anything or it might mean something. It's just one of those things that we may never find out. Anyhow yeah just pay attention only to the "Don't Dare" and the "Add" because the rest is just the thread being all weird with the Chinese characters.

Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016 10:47 AM

MUDD


I thought I'd try to follow up on chinese-forums.com, and they gave me roughly the same answer. The character closest to the corner of her mouth was illegible, but the rest says, "????" (that's probably going to look like question marks too, I suppose). I typed the characters into Google Translate and got, "Can not increase" which sounds pretty similar to "Don't dare add" to me. I wish I knew what the first character was!

Edit: If I look up each of the 4 characters individually, I get "Do Not. Dare. Increase. Price."

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Monday, February 15, 2016 1:46 AM

COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL

Everybody Dies Alone.


Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
I thought I'd try to follow up on chinese-forums.com, and they gave me roughly the same answer. The character closest to the corner of her mouth was illegible, but the rest says, "????" (that's probably going to look like question marks too, I suppose). I typed the characters into Google Translate and got, "Can not increase" which sounds pretty similar to "Don't dare add" to me. I wish I knew what the first character was!

Edit: If I look up each of the 4 characters individually, I get "Do Not. Dare. Increase. Price."



Well then that would certainly match up with the original idea that it might be a slave tattoo. So i'm guessing she's a slave and that tattoo is a price warning meaning don't add to the original price or don't sell her for more.

Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.

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Monday, February 15, 2016 10:35 AM

MUDD


Quote:

Originally posted by COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL:
Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
I thought I'd try to follow up on chinese-forums.com, and they gave me roughly the same answer. The character closest to the corner of her mouth was illegible, but the rest says, "????" (that's probably going to look like question marks too, I suppose). I typed the characters into Google Translate and got, "Can not increase" which sounds pretty similar to "Don't dare add" to me. I wish I knew what the first character was!

Edit: If I look up each of the 4 characters individually, I get "Do Not. Dare. Increase. Price."



Well then that would certainly match up with the original idea that it might be a slave tattoo. So i'm guessing she's a slave and that tattoo is a price warning meaning don't add to the original price or don't sell her for more.

Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.



Current best guesses are "Hand" and "Year" for the first character.

This site also offers a translation: http://fireflychinese.kevinsullivansite.net/title/serenitypt1.html#vis
ible

"The hand dares not hike the price." I think that supports your guess that it's a slave tattoo.

This site also notes that we see her right after we see what could be a gang (the Tong?). She might be looking at them. I'm not sure if that suggests anything.

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Monday, February 15, 2016 3:27 PM

COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL

Everybody Dies Alone.


Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
Quote:

Originally posted by COSPLAYWITHCAPTMAL:
Quote:

Originally posted by Mudd:
I thought I'd try to follow up on chinese-forums.com, and they gave me roughly the same answer. The character closest to the corner of her mouth was illegible, but the rest says, "????" (that's probably going to look like question marks too, I suppose). I typed the characters into Google Translate and got, "Can not increase" which sounds pretty similar to "Don't dare add" to me. I wish I knew what the first character was!

Edit: If I look up each of the 4 characters individually, I get "Do Not. Dare. Increase. Price."



Well then that would certainly match up with the original idea that it might be a slave tattoo. So i'm guessing she's a slave and that tattoo is a price warning meaning don't add to the original price or don't sell her for more.

Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.



Current best guesses are "Hand" and "Year" for the first character.

This site also offers a translation: http://fireflychinese.kevinsullivansite.net/title/serenitypt1.html#vis
ible

"The hand dares not hike the price." I think that supports your guess that it's a slave tattoo.

This site also notes that we see her right after we see what could be a gang (the Tong?). She might be looking at them. I'm not sure if that suggests anything.




The saddest thing about Firefly is all this stuff we'll never know. If you watched the Browncoats Unite Special they actually tell you that Joss Whedon had planned Firefly to be a 7 year run. He wanted Firefly to last 7 seasons minimum (sorry had to put a Niska reference in there). So that's why the gang is shown and the mysterious girl with the tattoo. They were probably things that would've been explained later on down the line. Unfortunately unlike CBS, NBC, and some other stations Fox has a terrible habit of never ever giving things a chance. I was listening to an interview with comedian Ray Romano last night and turns out Everybody Loves Raymond had the same time slot as Firefly (Friday nights) and the ratings were absolutely horrible the first season literally horrible. The reason the show made it and became super successful was because CBS gave it a chance. Same thing with Seinfeld. Seinfeld had horrible ratings and reviews but the network gave it a chance and it became the "best show on television". If Fox had given Firefly a chance I honestly believe that Firefly would've made it and became a success. Fox just hated the show from the beginning and the show was doomed before it even aired.

Now you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you.

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